• Future of the Internet

    nextgen

    How the EU plans to shape the ‘Internet of tomorrow’

    The European Commission has recently launched an initiative on the Next Generation Internet, aiming at looking into the Internet of the future, its opportunities as well as challenges. Jesus Villasante from DG Connect explains what to expect from this ini [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 14/Dec/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    The European Commission has recently launched an initiative on the Next Generation Internet, aiming at looking into the Internet of the future, its opportunities as well as challenges. Jesus Villasante from DG Connect explains what to expect from this initiative.

     

    The Digital Post:  What are the main goals of the initiative? What is it about?

    jesus-villasante-300x300

    Jesus Villasante: The Internet has become essential in many aspects of our daily life, for work, education and leisure. The future Internet will be even more pervasive, working with and through many different devices and sensors, and will present completely new functions and characteristics. We have launched the Next Generation Internet Initiative because we believe it is the right time to take a fresh look, with a broad and inclusive perspective, involving from the beginning the various stakeholders: from research, technical and business communities to citizens and civil society.

    To help us establishing an initiative which has an impact on the evolution of the Internet, a number of preparatory measures have started:

    – an open consultation where people can tell us what they expect from the Internet of the future, running until 9 January 2017

    – in order to back up the consultation and provide additional information, we have created an open space for conversations, for additional information, background documents and other materials. This is also where we will launch additional discussions on those topics that raise most interest in the consultation, giving people the opportunity to provide more detailed contributions at a later stage.

    – a call for support actions has just been launched in the Horizon 2020 research programme (objective ICT-41). The aim is to identify specific research topics and to create an ecosystem of relevant stakeholders.

     

    TDP: What are the main concerns regarding the future of the Internet?

    JV: The Internet becomes more and more important for people and for every economic or societal activity. It creates new business opportunities and new ways for social interaction, from the local to the global scale. Many Internet developments have surpassed any expectations in terms of benefits for citizens and economy. And yet, there are some reasons for concern about further progress. For example citizens lack of control on their own personal data or restrictions on Internet access because of geographical, economic or cultural reasons. These are areas that we need to work on and improve the current situation.

     

    TDP: What are the further opportunities and benefits it could bring?

    JV: The future Internet should overcome the shortcomings of today’s Internet. It should provide better services, allow for greater involvement and stimulate participation of people in areas such as public life and decision-making. Only if the future Internet is designed for humans it can meet its full potential for society and economy.

    Just an example: today, many Europeans are still reluctant to do their financial transactions online. Fraud, data skimming or other security pitfalls make them hesitate. The Next Generation Internet Initiative should take a fresh look at this type of issues and offer new and reliable technological solutions. It should be designed for people, so that it can meet its full potential for society and economy and reflect the social and ethical values that we enjoy in our societies.

     

    TDP: What is the right approach the EU should take to shape the developments of the Net and not being left behind?

    JV: There are three crucial aspects:

    First of all, the scope of the Next Generation Internet Initiative should be multi-disciplinary. This means we should address various technological questions and topics, ranging from interoperability to broadband. Also, we need to use more the various technological opportunities arising from advances in research fields such as network architectures, software-defined infrastructures and augmented reality.

    Secondly, I think that whatever approach the EU takes, it needs to reflect the European social and ethical values: free, open and more interoperable, yet respecting privacy. Only when we are able to reflect these values on the Net, the future Internet can release its full potential and provide better services, more intelligence, greater involvement and participation.

    Last but not least, we should get more people on board for this initiative. There are 615 million Internet users in Europe and many more worldwide which need to have a say in this. The shape of the Next Generation Internet Initiative is not decided behind closed doors, on the contrary: we want to reach out to the brilliant minds with excellent ideas. It is them and that community that can help us to move forward with this ambitious initiative. Of course the evolution of the Internet will be a global endeavour, but Europe shall make a decisive contribution for a better Internet.

     

    Picture credits: Salvatore Vastano 
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Data Economy

    umb3

    Why Privacy Shield is safe from legal challenges

    The Commission is convinced that the Privacy Shield lives up to the requirements set out by the European Court of Justice, says Christian Wigand, EC spokesperson for Justice. The Digital Post: Despite the reassuring statements of the European Commission [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 28/Nov/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    The Commission is convinced that the Privacy Shield lives up to the requirements set out by the European Court of Justice, says Christian Wigand, EC spokesperson for Justice.

    The Digital Post: Despite the reassuring statements of the European Commission, the new “Safe Harbour” does not seem out of danger. Is the Privacy Shield enough strong to resist any future attempt to challenge its legal legitimacy?

    Christian Wigand: As we have said from the beginning, the Commission is convinced that the Privacy Shield lives up to the requirements set out by the European Court of Justice, which have been the basis for the negotiations. We used the ECJ ruling as a “benchmark” in the final phase of the negotiations, let me explain how three key requirements have been addressed:

    – The European Court of Justice required limitations for access to personal data for national security purposes and the availability of independent oversight and redress mechanisms.

    The U.S. ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance on the personal data transferred to the US under this arrangement and for the first time, has given written commitments in this respect to the EU. For complaints on possible access by national intelligence authorities, a new Ombudsperson will be set up, independent from the intelligence services.

    – The Court required a regular review of the adequacy decisions.

    There will be an annual joint review to regularly review the functioning of the arrangement, which will also include the issue of national security access.

    – The Court required that all individual complaints about the way U.S. companies process their personal data are investigated and resolved.

    There will be a number of ways to address complaints, starting with dispute resolution by the company and free of charge alternative dispute resolution solutions. Citizens can also go to the Data protection authorities who will work together with the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that complaints by EU citizens are investigated and resolved. If a case is not resolved by any of the other means, as a last resort there will be an arbitration mechanism. Redress possibility in the area of national security for EU citizens’ will be handled by an Ombudsman independent from the US intelligence services

     

    TDP: Three months ago French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and his German counterpart, Thomas de Maizière, called on the EU to adopt a law that would require apps companies to make encrypted messages available to law enforcement.  What is the official position of the Commission on this particular issue? Is the Commission working on a proposal?

    CW: Encryption is widely recognised as an essential tool for security and trust in open networks. It can play a crucial role, together with other measures, to protect information, including personal data, hence reducing the impact of data breaches and security incidents. However, the use of encryption should not prevent competent authorities from safeguarding important public interests in accordance with the procedures, conditions and safeguards set forth by law.

    The current Data Protection Directive (which also applies to the so-called over-the-top service providers such as WhatsApp or Skype) allows Member States to restrict the scope of certain data protection rights where necessary and proportionate to, for instance, safeguard national security, and the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences.
    The new General Data Protection Regulation (which will apply as from 25 May 2018) maintains these restrictions.

     

    TDP: According to a survey published recently by Dell most firms are unprepared for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations less than 18 months before it enters into force. Are you worried about that?

    CW: To make the new data protection rules work in practice is a priority for us and we work closely with all stakeholders on that. The European Commission has set out a number of measures to make sure that companies operating in the European Union as well as national regulators will be ready for the new rules. There is work ongoing on all levels, with data protection authorities, industry representatives, data protection experts from Member States and of course national governments. For example, there are monthly meetings with Member States authorities on implementation. At the same time we are setting up a network between the Commission and national authorities to exchange information on the implementation of the Regulation and to share good practices.

     

    Picture credits: U.S. Army
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Media

    nam

    What public broadcasters think of the Digital Single Market

    Even though ‘traditional’ public service TV and radio remain very popular, we want to consolidate the important role public service media has to play in the digital environment, says Nicola Frank, Head of European Affairs of the EBU. Here's her opinio [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 28/Sep/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    Even though ‘traditional’ public service TV and radio remain very popular, we want to consolidate the important role public service media has to play in the digital environment, says Nicola Frank, Head of European Affairs of the EBU. Here’s her opinion on the main legislative proposals of the Digital Single Market strategy.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the priority issues for EBU on the EU digital policy agenda?

    Nicola Frank: Digital Single Market policies are crucial because they will impact the way programmes are licensed, distributed and presented to viewers. We want to make sure that our content reaches citizens on all devices, which calls for licensing tools which are fit for the digital environment as well as rules ensuring that all relevant networks carry our programmes, and significant platforms and interfaces display our services prominently to users.  This is very important for cultural diversity and media pluralism.

    Nicola Frank Head of European Affairs of the EBU
    Nicola Frank
    Head of European Affairs of the EBU

    The way citizens access TV and radio programmes has evolved extremely fast in recent years. Even though ‘traditional’ public service TV and radio remain very popular – reaching 59% and 44% of Europeans respectively every week – we want to consolidate the important role public service media has to play in the digital environment. This is very much at the heart of EBU members’ strategies today.

    As part of its digital strategy, the EU already made a very important step towards effective net neutrality. Now we need to build on this first important stepping stone with the recent proposals on the audiovisual media services directive, the telecoms review and the copyright proposals.

     

    TDP: What are the challenges for broadcasters in the recent telecoms review? 

    NF: From our perspective, the Telecoms review will impact the way our programmes are distributed on the various electronic communication networks – Digital Terrestrial Television, satellite, cable and IPTV. There is an opportunity within this review to strengthen the tools Member States have at their disposal to ensure that public service media programmes can be accessed on all key networks and on various devices. For example, ‘must-carry rules’ should be updated to match the fact that there are more means to distribute programmes and more on offer today, in particular interactive and on-demand services.

     

    TDP: The copyright proposal has been criticised by many in Brussels and you are one of the few being quite positive, why is this?

    NF: Yes, the proposal for a Regulation on broadcasters’ online content has caused quite an interesting reaction. Having analysed the proposal, we believe the Commission’s plans represent a balanced licensing solution. Effective licensing mechanisms are essential because assembling and distributing programmes implies that public service media organizations navigate through complex negotiations to obtain all the necessary licenses.

    The proposal confirms contractual freedom and is in line with territoriality, principles which are at the very heart of the content-funding model. It should however be possible, for example, for Europeans who reside outside their homeland to access programmes from back home when they go online. When broadcasters wish to make a programme available across borders, then there should be adequate licensing tools out there to turn this will into a reality.

     

    TDP: As part of the copyright discussions, broadcasters regularly mention the Satellite and Cable Directive. Where does that fit in?

    NF: The Satellite and Cable Directive of 1993 is an interesting model because it has unlocked access to broadcasters’ programmes across borders on satellite and cable networks. It introduced effective licensing mechanisms for satellite transmissions and retransmissions on cable networks, which have shown that territoriality can co-exist with the Internal Market. For example, the Italian public channel RAI 1 is available in 20 EU Member States via cable with the exception of certain premium content, and those of us living here in Brussels can watch Sherlock on the BBC on Belgian cable without any problem. Around 1500 free-to-air satellite channels without encryption are available across Europe.

     

    TDP: How are public broadcasters impacted by the proposals to update the AVMS Directive published earlier this year? From your point of you, how could the proposal be improved?

    NF: The AVMS Directive covers subjects which are of major importance for public service media:  informed citizenship, the protection of minors from harmful content and the promotion of European and domestic programmes to name but a few. They represent fundamental objectives for European audiovisual media policies. But what has changed is how these objectives are met in the digital environment.

    The audiovisual media services Directive should be updated to ensure that valuable content for society is prominently displayed and easily accessed where citizens go to get audiovisual programmes in today’s digital environment. We want our contribution to society to be effective in this rapidly-evolving audiovisual landscape: we offer impartial and diverse information, a gateway to European content – over 80% of our EBU members’ airtime – and safe, informative spaces for users, especially minors.

    Facilitating access to our members’ programmes is all the more important because powerful and VOD and OTT providers’ impact on the individual viewers’ choice and consumption is growing steadily. The Audiovisual media services Directive needs to give Member States the possibility to address access and appropriate prominence of public service media programmes.

    The role of video-sharing platforms and social media also needs to be examined. Obviously, you cannot regulate them like audiovisual media service providers who exercise editorial responsibility. But there needs to be a basic set of rules to protect minors and tackle hate speech because of the importance of these platforms in the digital environment, in particular for younger audiences.

     

    Picture credits: Pierre Metivier
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Innovation

    supercomputer

    Inside IBM Watson, a conversation with Paul Chong

    The Digital Post spoke with Paul Chong, Director of Watson group at IBM, on the future of the popular supercomputer combining AI and sophisticated analytical software. The Digital Post: What is the story behind IBM Watson? Paul Chong: It all came a [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 14/Sep/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    The Digital Post spoke with Paul Chong, Director of Watson group at IBM, on the future of the popular supercomputer combining AI and sophisticated analytical software.

    The Digital Post: What is the story behind IBM Watson?

    Paul Chong: It all came about by chance in 2006, when a couple of guys were sitting in a pub watching a quiz show and they came up with the idea of taking on the champions of this show. Then, they started to look at the challenges.

    At that point, we had a lot of experience and background in analyzing natural language programming and machine learning, so this opportunity came at the right time for us as well.

    Eventually, we took it to the quiz show in 2011 and we were successful. By then we have had one million dollars and had already started to think about where we could apply the technology into different industries in a very transformational way, taking what is a lot of unstructured data and giving it some sense.

     

    TDP: Apart from the health care sector, what are the other industries where IBM Watson is working on at the moment?

    PC: We are present in 17 different industries right now, including financial services, where we’ve been typically involved with retail and utility companies.

    Now we are trying to create a platform services for Watson AI machine, allowing a larger audience made up of users, developers, and startup entrepreneurs to use it for business purposes. The idea is to decompose the technology, provide it as a set of APIs, very easy to use, so that everyone can use it. What we’re trying to do is creating a really intuitive platform.

     

    TDP: Where do you see Watson in five or even 10 years’ time?

    PC: I think we’re going to see an evolution of those services, particularly in terms of numbers and quality of the services provided. For example, one of the big challenges with AI is the amount of time of supervised learning that you need to do. Supervised learning means that there is an intervention by humans to train the data and the models.

    What you’ll start to see is a great improvement, namely less data will have to feed the system to teach it, and there will be less intervention from human beings. I also think services will become more intuitive to use so that businesses can take advantage of them by understanding the type of outcomes they want.

     

    TDP: AI technologies, and computing technologies in general, are raising concerns about the impact they may have on employment.

    PC: You have to look back in history in order to know what’s going to come in the future. Take the industrial revolutions for example. On various levels, we’ve always seen a situation where, as human beings, we’re very adaptable, and we start to find out what our new roles are going to be, how we are going to exist, and what work will look like in the future. We have always witnessed that humans eventually find another level to operate on.

    We are now going through a cognitive age, which will require a great deal of adaptability. Governments will soon start thinking about it for the next generation. What type of training and education we are going to imagine for them? We should avoid training them to be working on machinery or doing certain mandate roles, such as accountancy, which, among others, will be automated within the next twenty years.

    We have to start questioning ourselves and taking steps now. Regulators, governments and educators have to start thinking about what types of jobs are going to exist in the future, while companies and countries should focus on their competitive technology.

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Digital Single Market

    warsaw

    How Poland plans to make the most of digital transformation

    The Digital Post talked to Krzysztof Szubert, Plenipotentiary of Minister for International Affairs and Strategic Advisor to the Minister, about Poland's ambitious plans to boost digital infrastructures and services.   The Digital Post: What are [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 11/Jul/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    The Digital Post talked to Krzysztof Szubert, Plenipotentiary of Minister for International Affairs and Strategic Advisor to the Minister, about Poland’s ambitious plans to boost digital infrastructures and services.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the main priorities of Digital Poland?

    Krzysztof Szubert

    Krzysztof Szubert: Poland aspires to the group of leading EU coun­tries, thus we need to take an active political po­sition with regard to digital transformation of the state. We need to support the strategy for devel­oping the information society combined with ef­ficient coordination of this process. Having that in mind, we have decided with Minister Anna Strezynska, to develop up to 20-pages long document Strategic Action Priorities of the Minister of Digital Affairs”. It is based on 5 pillars and 18 actions.

    The five fundamental principles are: 1) the state should serve the citizen – thanks to digital technology the state should con­nect dispersed institutions and change com­plex procedures into consistent and simple services; 2) access to the public network and services must be safe for our data and all types of transactions conducted in the network; 3) in order to pursue e-administration targets, but above all, to achieve social and econom­ic goals, it is necessary to accelerate the de­velopment of modern telecommunications infrastructure; 4) development of the desired innovative econ­omy needs permanent and easy access to data gathered by public services and we need to constantly – regardless of age – improve our digital competences to effective­ly benefit from digitization and compete on the global market.

    We are very much aware that this is not cherry-picking as for those principles to bear fruit it is necessary to observe them all together while developing any strategic public service actions. We have put together as many as 18 of them and their wide variety ranges from having one gate to services, and across adopting standards of electronic circulation of documents down to being more effective in the EU or other international institutions so that we have a stronger say on the law that is shaped up there.

     

    TDP: How these plans could make the difference?

    KS: First of all, we do have the strategy in place to follow. Over the last many years it has been the chaotic way of development and making available of electronic public services that have limited access to them to very narrow groups of recipients with their in­teroperability being far from ideal.

    Each Polish citizen, organization and entre­preneur should be able to settle any official matter electronically while contacting any level of public administration. When we deliver that, “we will win”. What makes this strategy stand out from any previous attempts is that we really want not only the whole government participating but also wide support from all other stakeholders. The draft priorities had been available for public comment and we received huge input that finally became part of what we are implementing now.

     

    TDP: What are the highest challenges Poland is facing in terms of digital?

    KS: Lack of coordination as well as deficit of efficient project management of Polish administration di­rectly affect the quality of development of e-ad­ministration which is all about providing facilita­tions for citizens and entrepreneurs. It is necessary to urgently improve methods of implementation of innovative projects and create the main center coordinating their management. To support that, we think that heading towards the national CIO model seems to be the right step. Efficiency of public administration systems is one of the conditions for the stability of the state – we have to convince our citizen and business to relay on them and to use them.

     

    TDP: Do the Digital Single Market meet the expectations of Polish government? What are in your opinion the most important aspects of the strategy?

    KS: Digitization is, in fact, the transformation of the state, rather than merely buying systems and equipment. By using modern technologies, the state can become a service provider. It is to develop faster, become more friendly and support the needs of citizens, entrepreneurs, organizations and local governments.

    The DSM strategy in general is helping address those needs in many areas, but we have to be sure that it fits well into our specific market – that there is no place for one-size-fits-all. Digital Single Market requires efforts towards removing the real problems to the development of e-commerce within the EU. The main challenges the smart DSM will have to face are threefold: making sure the undertaken efforts put first the citizen, the consumer and the Internet user while adding as less as possible to regulatory burden for business with having single market benefits spread fairly equally among Member States.

     

    TDP: Will Brexit affect European digital policies?

    KS: As you may know, a broader vision of the digital single market (incl. digital policy) in the EU – supported by the Polish Government – is set out in works of the group of like-minded EU Member States which has recently been very active in making a strong consolidated voice heard in Brussels. There are 14 Member States including UK & Poland in it. We will continue to keep the same vision of building the solid foundation of the digital economy and moving the single market to the digital age without imposing new burdens on businesses.

    The UK has so far been an important part of that message, and I hope it will continue to be such and that we can even convince other countries to “join the club”. Poland is now leading the V4 (the Visegrad Group) and we will stick to that vision regardless of the UK being in or out of the European Union, as long as digital single market and digital policies are bringing benefits both to the citizens and to the business sector. Therefore, one of the priorities of the Minister of Digital Af­fairs will be pursuing active and determined poli­cy to reinforce our participation in developing the EU and international solutions and securing Po­land’s social and economic benefits.

     

    Picture credits: ArchiDju
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Digital Single Market

    doctor 3

    Eva Kaili: How eHealth will benefit from less digital barriers in the EU

    The eHealth sector within the digital single market is expected to be worth 20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs, explains Greek MEP Eva Kaili. The Digital Post: What the EU is currently doing to speed up the development and spread of eHealth servi [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 28/Jun/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    The eHealth sector within the digital single market is expected to be worth 20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs, explains Greek MEP Eva Kaili.

    The Digital Post: What the EU is currently doing to speed up the development and spread of eHealth services?

    new logo-small

    Eva Kaili: Over the last years we have seen significant progress. There are many initiative at EU and national level, the most important of which is the EU eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020. The Digital Single Market also represents a huge step forward. Moreover, the EU is funding research and innovative initiatives in the field as well as helping SMEs operating in this sector.

     

    TDP: What are the main challenges for the further development of the ehealth technologies in Europe?

    EK: Different languages, different mentalities, different legislation, different taxation, different education systems: these are all big challenges that we have to face, because it is clear that the development of the sector depends on more coordination among the EU member states. For instance, we still have different accreditation and validation systems in each country. In addition, the digital divide that still runs between the EU states makes things more difficult. The EU action plan on eHealth addresses comprehensively these issues aiming at building a union in the field of eHealth by 2020. I think we are almost halfway. The opportunity is huge: the eHealth sector in the digital single market is expected to be worth 20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs.

     

    TDP: What further actions or policies should be taken at EU and national level?

    Eva

    EK: Overall, we need to go for smarter and flexible strategies which can be adapted to the peculiarities of very different countries. We cannot expect all member states to follow the same path at the same speed. I also think more has to be done on active aging as well as digital accessibility and digital literature. All these issues are fundamental to expand the reach and the adoption of eHealth tools among the population.

     

    TDP: Do you think the Digital Single Market strategy will deliver?

    EK: Yes, I think it can. We can already see the benefits of the efforts made in the last years towards a single digital market. Roaming fees, for instance, are about to disappear. Let me take another example in the field of eHealth. Thanks to eprescription you can have your medication in each country you go, just using your mobile phone.

     

    This is part of a series of interviews held during the conference 
    "Digital Single Market: Bridging the Gap" organized by 
    the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
    The event featured keynote speeches from Commissioner Oettinger
    Juhan Lepassaar and Robert Madelin (EPSC). 
    Other speakers included senior EU officials, parliamentarians, 
    trade bodies and business leaders who discussed the future challenges for 
    business in the areas of fintech, e-health and industry 4.0.
    

     

     

    Picture credits: Chuck Patch
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Periscope

    DN-SN-82-05975

    U.S. Privacy Mess

    Even if the European Union recently adopted an updated and comprehensive regulation on data protection, the issue of privacy will likely continue to produce political controversies and fuel (legal) disputes in Brussels as well as in many countries of the [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 17/Jun/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    Even if the European Union recently adopted an updated and comprehensive regulation on data protection, the issue of privacy will likely continue to produce political controversies and fuel (legal) disputes in Brussels as well as in many countries of the old continent.

    What’s interesting is that the customary European mess surrounding data protection rules appears to be ‘infecting’ the U.S. At least to a certain extent. By reclassifying broadband ISPs as common carriers, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has also grabbed legitimate powers to regulate how they handle privacy.

    And that’s exactly what it did publishing in March a proposal which many believe to be way too prescriptive for ISPs, not least because it will place on them several obligations that other Internet companies do not have to comply with. The problem is that up to now the Federal Trade Commission was the only ‘privacy cop’ presiding over the compliance of data protection rules on the Internet. Now that the FCC have weighed in it’s less clear what will be the role of the two agencies.

    On paper the FCC will start policing the ISPs under its new (and more stringent) rules, whereas the FTC will continue to enforce consumers protection rules on the commercial Internet. We will then see two different set of rules applying to ISPs on the one hand and to the rest of Internet companies on the other.

    The odd thing here is that while Europe is putting much effort in placing all the players under the same regulatory umbrella (for instance with the new General Data Protection Regulation), the U.S. are seemingly walking the opposite direction. Even Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor, wrote in a recent opinion: “we also recommend clarification of the respective roles of the FCC and the FTC over broadband internet service providers.”

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Digital Single Market

    Mastercard

    Ann Cairns: How we are leveraging digital technology for financial inclusion

    On the sidelines of the European Business Summit The Digital Post met Ann Cairns, MasterCard's President of International Markets, to discuss how digital technologies are making a difference in fighting the exclusion from financial services.   Th [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 13/Jun/20168 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    On the sidelines of the European Business Summit The Digital Post met Ann Cairns, MasterCard’s President of International Markets, to discuss how digital technologies are making a difference in fighting the exclusion from financial services.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the main activities or initiatives on financial inclusion which MasterCard has launched?

    Ann-Cairns-200x200

    Ann Cairns: At MasterCard, we are committed to reaching people previously excluded from financial services and as part of this we have pledged to reach 500 million new consumers worldwide by 2020.

    This means providing solutions that allow them to participate in the formal financial system. We have made good progress. And we fundamentally believe that technology, fintech and electronic payments are powerful tools to ensure we achieve that goal.

    We have many initiatives worldwide, including several in emerging economies.  For example, we have a partnership with the Social Security Agency in South Africa to issue 10 million biometric enabled social security Debit MasterCard cards.

    The key feature of these cards is that the biometric functionality enables the Social Security Agency to ensure only qualifying grant recipients collect the grants.

    A landmark public-private collaboration with the Egyptian government we announced last year aims at financially including 54 million citizens.

    We worked with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance and the Egyptian Banking Corporation to roll out a digital ID programme that link citizens’ national ID to the existing national mobile money platform.

    Financial exclusion is not just an issue in countries with emerging economies, it is a big challenge for many Europeans as well. There are many parts in Europe where vast parts of the population simply have no access or do not use formal financial services.

    MasterCard commissioned a 10 -market online survey to understand European consumers’ perceptions of financial and digital inclusion, through the lens of gender inclusion.

    The results of the survey showed that while almost half of consumers in Europe feel that there is a somewhat high or high level of financial inclusion in their country, less than one in four (22%) agree that Europe is the most financially and digitally (24%) inclusive region in the world.

    MasterCard has partnered with many public authorities to launch systems to encourage financial inclusion. For example, we helped the London Borough of Brent to develop a new prepaid card programme for social benefits. The scheme ensures the money is being used by the right people and provides cost savings to the Council and consumers.

     

    TDP: How can we leverage digital technology for financial inclusion?

    AC: We see the future moving in the direction of the Internet of Things.  As we made progress with financial inclusion we started to see that digital identity was actually something that was being used by governments around the world to roll out and register people, and also to include them in society. This is how we started to see inclusion as much broader than just financial inclusion and how it encompasses digital and gender.

    Innovation is a key element for moving to a digitally inclusive society: MasterCard fully supports innovation and entering of new payment methods. The key to achieving inclusion lies in digital payment programmes. In order to deliver on consumers’ and merchants’ expectations for ever better ways of connecting the two MasterCard is continuously looking into new technologies and opportunities that can make that happen.

    Public authorities also have a huge role to play. By switching their payments, be it social disbursements, salary payments or any other kind of payments onto electronic platforms, they can not only gain efficiencies for themselves but also make a significant contribution to bringing people into the financial mainstream.

    Mobile payment platforms have also served as an opportunity to incorporate more individuals into the formal, existing financial system. While many people still do not have access to a bank account, more than 1 in 3 people in the world (2.6 billion) will be using smartphones within the next two years. And mobile phone and tablet users will be making almost 200 billion transactions annually by 2019[1].

    For example, earlier this year MasterCard ‘s HomeSend venture expanded its agreement with the Vodafone Group for M-Pesa – the mobile phone service which allows people with no bank account to send and receive money, top up their phone and enjoy other services all through their mobile phones. Globally, M-Pesa now reaches 25.3 million users (including users in Europe, for example in Romania and Albania).

     

    TDP: MasterCard has just published a new study on financial inclusion. What are its main findings?

    AC: MasterCard commissioned a 10 -market online survey to understand European consumers’ perceptions of financial and digital inclusion, through the lens of gender inclusion.

    The results of the survey showed that while almost half of consumers in Europe feel that there is a somewhat high or high level of financial inclusion in their country, less than one in four (22%) agree that Europe is the most financially and digitally (24%) inclusive region in the world.

    Other key findings include:

    –  Fewer than half of Europeans (49%) believe there is a high level of financial inclusion in their country.

    –  The vast majority of Europeans (79%) believe men have a higher degree of financial and digital inclusion than women.

    –  88% of respondents stated equal opportunities for Europeans in terms of access to financial and digital products, irrespective of gender, are vital for an open and inclusive society, but only 66% agree they have equal access themselves.

    The results demonstrated that, in general, digital and financial inclusion were experiencing a very similar perception issue. So as the EU looks to build a true digital single market in Europe in which people can interact and transact cross-border as seamlessly as in their own country, we need to focus on tearing down the real barriers and ensure that everyone can reap the benefits of a more inclusive world. The Digital Single Market needs to be built with the consumer or end-user in mind.

     

    TDP: Digital inclusion is still an issue also in several EU countries. Do you see governments committing enough to fixing the problem?

    AC: What we see is that the perception of digital inclusion is comparable to inclusive growth. We believe that digital exclusion usually triggers or is triggered by other kinds of exclusion, such as financial or gender exclusion. The assumption that financial exclusion and in turn digital exclusion is a problem solely in developing economies alone could not be further from the truth. We found that roughly 90 million people in Western Europe are still underserved.[2]

    If we look at Europe – the European Commission has done some great work on financial inclusion in recent years. The EU Payments Account Directive was adopted in 2014 and provides for the right for all EU citizens to open a payment account that allows them to perform essential operations, such as receiving their salary, pensions and allowances or payment of utility bills etc.

    With the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission is promoting technology and digital throughout the EU. As I referred to when speaking at the European Business Summit earlier this month, what is important is that inclusiveness is embedded into all digital policy initiatives. We need to ensure that the Digital Single Market is built with the citizen’s needs in mind so that it adds value to him or her.

    From MasterCard’s experience, the increased engagement of government helps drive greater expansion of financial inclusion. For example, in the UK, we are working with many local authorities who are now issuing welfare payments through pre-paid cards.

    Some of them have gone entirely cashless and processing all disbursements (e.g. welfare payments, child benefit, asylum seekers, etc.) electronically. Through these initiatives, citizens now have quicker and more secure access to their benefits. Meanwhile, we are seeing how the authorities themselves are enjoying significant savings thanks to increased efficiencies.

     

    TDP: How can the private sector help public institutions or cooperate with them on expanding digital literacy as well as digital skills?

    AC: The private sector is at the forefront of driving financial inclusion. But obviously we cannot do this alone: Public authorities have a crucial role to play. The Commission has recently consulted on various initiatives and published some very interesting proposals in areas such as e-government for example.

    We welcome the Commission’s emphasis on public private cooperation as this is an area where MasterCard is very active and where we partner frequently with public institutions.[3] The best example is the work around social disbursements onto prepaid cards.

    Although the UK is one of the more advanced markets when it comes to promoting electronic payments for government expenditure, other countries are also making good progress.

    In Italy, for example, we work with the national postal service to provide a simpler and more transparent tax collection system. We rolled-out new electronic payment terminals to help millions of Italians pay their taxes in the post office in a fast and safe way. In general, the benefits of going more digital are obvious.

     

    ((1] Juniper Research – Mobile commerce transactions to approach 200bn by 2019: http://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/mobile-commerce-transactions-to-approach-200bn-by
    [2] New Financial Inclusion Study Spotlights Europe’s Financially Excluded, Press release available: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/press-releases/new-financial-inclusion-study-spotlights-europes-financially-excluded/
    [3] For more information on our e-government activities: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/photos/mastercard-government-services-and-solutions/

     

     

    Picture Credits: John Ragai
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Innovation

    15558334957_1b79fa6a49_z

    Robert Madelin: We are at work to fix Europe’s innovation problems

    Europe can still be a rather bumpy landscape for innovators, although innovators should learn to market better their achievements, argues Robert Madelin, Senior Adviser for innovation within the European Commission and former Director General at DG Connec [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 08/Jun/20165 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    Europe can still be a rather bumpy landscape for innovators, although innovators should learn to market better their achievements, argues Robert Madelin, Senior Adviser for innovation within the European Commission and former Director General at DG Connect.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the major challenges facing the DSM strategy?

    Robert Madelin: The Strategy itself identifies several challenges under its 16 actions. It’s also clear that some of the changes brought in by the Strategy will imply winners and losers. The main political challenge is whether we are ready to accept this because we care enough about improving our society.

     

    TDP: Do you think the strategy is enough future-proof? new logo-small

    RM: We have entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a period where everything is changing and evolving so fast that it is difficult to grasp what’s next. Under these circumstances, the successful strategies should go to the basics. The Digital Single Market strategy is precisely future-proof in this sense, since nobody knows what the future is. Delivering infrastructure, capacity, industrial transformations, skills awareness, cyber security while investing enough in research into Quantum, Big Data and 5G: This is a good portfolio effort. But it’s impossible to avoid taking risks in a period of big change. The Digital Single Market Strategy take such risks and it is likely that some of its actions will fail.

     

    TDP: On 1st September 2015 you were appointed senior adviser for innovation within the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker tasked you with drafting a policy review on innovation in Europe. What can you tell about this report?

    RM: I think the missing piece is often the recognition that research is a component of European innovation and competitiveness. Let me put this in figures: less than one euro in five spent by European companies on innovation is poured into research. Moreover, in some areas we don’t have a positive conversation about innovation. At European level we don’t have a conversation at all. What we have, instead, is little pockets of reaction to disruptive innovation.

    This resistance to innovation may be legitimate or not, but it is difficult to act on it if we don’t have a proper debate. That’s why Europe can still be a rather bumpy landscape for innovators and that’s the problem we have to fix. The report should be released by the end of June.

     

    TDP: So are you saying that Europe is not a positive environment for innovators?

    RM: Let’s talk first about the environment in the world. In 2015 the communications firm Edelman carried out an extensive survey on innovation by interviewing tens of thousands people in a hundred countries.

    What came out is that two out of three respondents understand that innovation is good for growth and jobs, but only one out of three think that innovation is doing something good for the planet as well as for their communities and families.

    I believe this proves that innovators are marketing their intentions and achievements very poorly and that’s not true only in Europe. The same survey tells us that Europeans want innovation to primarily look at issues such as health, family, community, environment. The two things fit together.

    Everybody wants innovations, and wants innovation to benefit the areas they care about. Therefore, the vision underlying the European approach to innovation is right: ‘responsible innovation’ is a key concept within our research programme Horizon 2020. That’s the theory. As far as the execution is concerned, we are beginning to learn.

    Coming to your question, is the atmosphere positive for innovators? Not yet. Can it get better? Yes. Do we understand how to? I think so. Are we working on it? Yes.

     

    TDP: Let’s switch to the telecom sector. What do you think should be the priorities of the upcoming review of the telecom framework?

    robert_madelin

    RM: The reason to have a telecoms framework is systemic empty competitive mechanisms in the market. Now we have to revisit how far that’s a problem. We’ve already narrowed enormously the number of markets to which the regime applies.

    The second question to ask is to what extent we need a framework. We still do because telecoms it’s a network industry. But how do we tune the framework to ensure the best possible supply of infrastructure? That’s a big problem that we haven’t fixed yet.

    Of course, everybody has different views on the best answer to this. My personal view, having been for five years Director General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission, is that the theory of the ladder of investment doesn’t reach to fiber to the home.

    If it doesn’t work, we need to apply another theory: Which means we might need to either invest more public money or structure differently the market in order to generate very high speed connectivity investment.

     

    This is part of a series of interviews held during the conference 
    "Digital Single Market: Bridging the Gap" organized by 
    the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
    The event featured keynote speeches from Commissioner Oettinger
    Juhan Lepassaar and Robert Madelin (EPSC). 
    Other speakers included senior EU officials, parliamentarians, 
    trade bodies and business leaders who discussed the future challenges for 
    business in the areas of fintech, e-health and industry 4.0.

     

    Picture credits: Dennis Skley
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark
  • Telecoms

    telephone

    Dominique Leroy: Let telecoms operators speak with one voice in Europe

    The way the telecoms industry is represented in Europe is still too weak and fragmented, says Proximus CEO Dominique Leroy in a conversation with The Digital Post on the sidelines of the iMinds annual conference. Her main suggestion for the revision of th [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 27/May/20166 min read
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark

    The way the telecoms industry is represented in Europe is still too weak and fragmented, says Proximus CEO Dominique Leroy in a conversation with The Digital Post on the sidelines of the iMinds annual conference. Her main suggestion for the revision of the telecom framework: more regulatory focus on services than technology.

    The Digital Post: Let’s start from Internet of Things. Proximus is the first operator in Belgium, and one of the first in Europe, that launched a network for Internet of Things. What is it about?

    Dominique Leroy: Historically, telecoms were always about connecting people. More and more in the future, they will also play a key role in connecting things. Against this background, what we did is not so much building a simple network, but setting up a whole end-to-end ecosystem to enable the Internet of Things. We are providing enterprises, consumers as well as developers an end-to-end system equipped with sensors and based on LoRa networks, a long-range and low-power type of networks that connects sensors without SIM cards.

    The purpose is to get small packets of data from the sensors through the LoRa networks and store them in our data centers on a platform called MyThings, where we already provide data analytics. The idea is then to open the platform to developers so that they can develop new applications. There are certain domains where we would like to go all the way up to creating applications, mainly in the mobility field, where we think that we can really bring an added value through Internet of Things.

    So as you see, the Internet of Things opens up a whole new ecosystem. It is more than a utility provided by telcos. We want to offer solutions, partnerships, we are opening up to other players and therefore we are creating innovation. We are also one of the first companies in the sector moving in this direction.

    TDP: Privacy and security are two big challenges for the IoT. What is your view?iMinds_0

    DL: That’s probably where telco operators have a real added value considering their knowhow: We already provide end-to-end security over our infrastructures, from your phone to the applications you use, all the way to our datacentres. This expertise is very important for tomorrow’s connectivity in cars, home automation and health. LoRa networks come already with a triple encryption key. They secure the sensor identification, the payload and the network. In general, when it comes to using certification, identification and authorization technologies I believe that is where we provide a lot of added value.

    TDP: How do you see telecoms operators capitalizing on the Internet of Things in, say, five years from now?

    DL:  Data consumption today is driven mainly by millions of people connecting with each other. Data consumption will increase dramatically in the coming years as billions of connected devices go on-line. This new reality will create huge volumes of data traffic.  IoT will thus become an important piece of the telcos ecosystems, leading to more investment in infrastructures, stimulating more innovation, value, and opportunities for new revenue streams and profit.

    TDP: The European commission is working on new proposals to implement greater coordination at European level of radio-spectrum policies. Unfortunately, in the past similar legislative moves were met with strong scepticism from member states. Why this time should be different?

    DL: I don’t think member states want to give to Europe their powers on spectrum policy. But they very much understand that if they want to develop a coherent European digital market, there needs to be some coordination. The repurposing of 700 MHz for Wireless Broadband Services should be done within a certain timeframe all over Europe, otherwise it wouldn’t work. If tomorrow we need much higher frequency bandwidth, for instance to be able to develop 5G and self-driving cars, some sort of European coordination is essential to get there.

    Moreover, a more consistent policy all over Europe should be applied to the length of licenses. These actions are all feasible, and I think member states will in a way or another agree that’s the right path. However, what they won’t allow is that the EU decide on the prices for the spectrum. In any case, I think that we have an opportunity to have more coordination in terms of timing of the auctions and duration of spectrum licenses.

    TDP: What should be the main priorities of the forthcoming proposal on the revision of the EU telecoms framework?

    DL

    DL: We definitely need less regulation to be able to catch up with more competitive markets. In the last 20 years, Europe has been very effective in overseeing the liberalization of the industry securing a high level of competition. However, today if you look at the big players in the industry, either they come from America, or more and more from Asia. Regulation is certainly one of the root causes of not having strong European digital players.

    So, let’s make sure that we deregulate as much as possible, and let competition drive investments and spur innovation. Levelling the playing field is also another important aspect. It is not acceptable anymore that telcos are subjected to obligations on, say, privacy, data usage, or interoperability that are not applying to players operating the same services. The problem today is that regulation is focusing too much on technology and not on services, which produce lot of inconsistencies between cable, telecom, OTT operators providing the same services. So my recipe could be summarized in three elements: less regulation, more level playing field, more regulatory focus on services than technology.

    TDP: A word on the increasingly tough stance of Margrethe Vestager on Mergers & Acquisitions?

    DL: I think we as an industry need to articulate better what we want, what are the risks of preventing telcos from growing in scale, and what is acceptable and what not. We are not very well-structured and every too often we shy away from speaking with one voice. That also explains why it is easier for regulators to take their own direction: we do not make enough efforts to be listened. We can blame regulators or politicians but I think we should also look at ourselves and see how we can be more united to defend our industry. The way we are represented in Europe is still too weak and fragmented.

     

     

    Picture credits: Matt Brajlih
    FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsAppEvernotePocketKindle ItBufferLinkedIn
    x
    Bookmark